PRSalpha Keeps Manufacturing Lean for SaunaSpace

SaunaSpace Pocket Sauna cut on ShopBot PRSalpha

The Pocket Sauna® is just one of many products that SaunaSpace is bringing into the average American home.

Brian Richards is the founder and CEO of SaunaSpace, a company that manufactures health-oriented sauna solutions designed to fit into any lifestyle and budget. Their saunas provide what Brian refers to as “an ancestral healing method for the modern home without costly installation or planning,” which allows any consumer to enjoy reduced stress hormones, decreased blood pressure, and improved cardiovascular health. Having a ShopBot PRSalpha helped Brian bring the healing nature of saunas into the typical home with a range of convenient and manageable sauna installations, making real products out of lofty ideas.

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A CNC tool helps SaunaSpace add repeatable precision to production.

When Richards was first getting started, he applied for a substantial business loan so he could get his idea off the ground. But when he came across a ShopBot in another local Columbia, MO business, he was able to increase the loan amount under the pretense that an automated CNC tool would minimize future debt potential. With the purchase of a 96-60 PRSalpha, SaunaSpace immediately gained the ability to design & prototype everything in-house, boosting production capability and flexibility. Since then, the production has become incredibly lean and efficient, with the ShopBot running essentially all day long: it spends 4-5 hours a day cutting parts for production, a few hours for prototyping, and any remaining time is dedicated to experimentation or cutting parts needed for business. In Brian’s words, the PRSalpha is “a production infrastructure in itself” for SaunaSpace, a concept that fits in with ShopBot’s stance on the future of manufacturing.

Prototyping Makes Perfect on the PRSalpha

All of SaunaSpace’s prototypes are made in pine, which is a more affordable and flexible alternative compared to the final products’ basswood, which is optimal for saunas due to its low toxicity and pliability. Working with pine makes experimentation possible without wasting materials, and is much softer and more available than basswood. By cutting prototypes in a softer wood, it guarantees that the method will work in a harder material. This prototyping workflow is one of just many developed by the SaunaSpace crew on their ShopBot, which shows just how important experimentation can be to delivering a reliable and affordable product.

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Brian Richards holds a stand-up with his team, which has helped keep business lean and profitable.

Another feature of the PRSalpha that has helped in prototyping is its precision, especially among repeated tasks. The wiring tray and light panels of all SaunaSpace products require precise cuts with different bits, and constantly making adjustments with the tool would take time and resources away form other important aspects of production. The team utilizes the tool changer and two-sided machining techniques to minimize time and effort that goes into an intricate and integral part of every sauna.

 

The Future of SaunaSpace Production

Having a ShopBot doesn’t replace anybody. At SaunaSpace, everyone is a master at their craft.

At SaunaSpace, change and adjustment is always encouraged; in fact, it’s at the very core of what has allowed the company to grow. The team is always looking to build upon its experiences to date, and doesn’t shy away from any innovation that can help improve production.

“[Customers] bring things up and we’re always keeping our ears to the ground,” notes Brian. “Having the PRSalpha in our space makes trying new things possible.”

But listening to customer feedback isn’t the only method for driving change. In fact, most of the new product ideas come from simply trying out new things. The company has been looking at the plotter pen as a way to sketch out ideas before prototyping, and are even getting ready to purchase their second PRSalpha, which will not only double production output, but allow the team to experiment while simultaneously still making a great product.

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